Thursday, October 25, 2007

Know Your Hood'

I started this blog back in August for a couple of reasons. One of those reasons was a growing frustration at the lack of Pioneer Valley- specific books, on the topic of the local outdoors.

Over the years I've acquired several books on hiking, biking, kayaking, ect. I've acquired several books on wildlife, trees, wildflowers, ect. Many of them are focused on the Northeast, or New England, or Southern New England.

They are good books, but precious few are dedicated to the Pioneer Valley area exclusively. It's trails, hills, wildlife. The nooks and crannies and beautiful places that can only people who live here could know.

Most books I've come across would only have this area represented as one area out of many, at best. One chapter out of twenty. The ones I did find about just this area, were usually focused on one specific aspect of the outdoors, and usually limited even in that scope.

Where's the book devoted to what we will see here, not in Manchester or Cape Cod or Burlington? When I was at the 'Book Mill' in Montague this past weekend, I finally came across the book that I'd been imagining, lo these many years.

The Natural History of Western Massachusetts. By Stan Freeman and Mike Nasuti.

To quote the cover: 'Birds, wildflowers, ice age, trees, dinosaurs, bears, weather, beavers, turtles, butterflies, geology, fish, mountains, deer, frogs, ecosystems.'

All of it, and more. And easy to read and understand, for us slower kids in the class.

Easy concise local information. With brilliant photos, drawings, and graphs.

It doesn't delve too deeply into any specific topic, but it is a good, factual, get-to know-the-area, quick reference book. Unfortunately they didn't make it pocket-size, like a field guide type book. But you could probably throw it into a backpack pretty easily.

There are also little tidbits of useful info and factoids scattered throughout, like "the science of butterfly wings" or winter survival strategies of plants and animals, or "skunk-spray warning signs".

The last page says some of the material in the book is based on articles that have appeared in the Republican newspaper of Springfield. It is published by Hampshire House in Florence.

If you enjoy the valley, you'll enjoy this book.


Mary E.Carey said...

Brian, my long-suffering boyfriend and co-star of my blog (My co-worker Phyllis is the other star, whereas my son would run away from home if I started focusing on him)... Brian, as I was saying, uses this book in the ecology classes he teaches at Hampshire College. Maybe all of us bloggers could get together with Brian and the faithful blog readers who are our 100-percent partners in this adventure, and do a sort of sequel to it. Disclaimer: I keep talking about organizing a local bloggers summit, but I'm trying to get someone else to actually do it! I suggest we combine it with a big party to welcome back Tom Devine upon his reappearance in the blogosphere.

Tony said...

Good ideas. The potential for a valley 'megablog' is there if all the local bloggers got together as contributers; politics, news, activities, ect.

A Blogger Summit could be fun, but yes, T.Devine would have to re-spawn first.